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Trump on Supreme Court opportunity to overturn Obamacare: “I hope they end it”

Trump got another chance to share his health care plan in a 60 Minutes interview. He didn’t have an answer.

Days before the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump isn’t making any secret of his health care agenda: He wants the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act — which could leave tens of millions without health care coverage — and he’s nowhere close to having a plan in its place.

“I hope they end it,” Trump told 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl, in an interview that the Trump campaign preemptively released over purported concerns that the president’s words would be misconstrued.

“It’ll be so good if they end it.”

Obamacare, which Trump and congressional Republicans failed to repeal in 2017, is more popular than it’s ever been. Yet Trump’s Justice Department is supporting a lawsuit from 20 Republican states to overturn the law in its entirety. More than 20 million people could lose their insurance without a plan to replace the law. The law’s regulations that bar insurers from discriminating against people based on their medical history, its financial aid to help people buy insurance, and the Medicaid expansion that covered more than 12.5 million Americans would be wiped out.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, has previously expressed opposition to Court decisions upholding Obamacare. But there may be reason to believe she could vote to preserve the law, at least in the current suit, given the dubious arguments in the case.

Trump has been gunning to end Obamacare, in one way or another, since he came into office. But he is yet to come up with a plan that could both pass through Congress and not lead to millions of Americans becoming uninsured.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Stahl asked how Trump would protect people with preexisting conditions.

“I’ll protect it,” Trump said. “Will be totally protected.”

“How?”

“They’ll be protected, Lesley,” the president repeated. “I mean, the people with pre-existing conditions are going to be protected.”

Stahl tried one more time: “How?”

Trump instead promised that a health care plan would be coming, eventually, some day. Once the country saw what the outcome of the Supreme Court case is.

“It’s fully developed,” he said, without specifying any of its details. “It’s going to be announced very soon, when we see what happens with Obamacare.”

Trump’s desire to appear to have a health care plan has been evident in the final months of the campaign. He signed a legally toothless executive order about preexisting conditions. His administration has been trying to figure out how to send $200 discount cards for prescription drugs to Medicare beneficiaries. Trump says he has a health care plan but the public hasn’t seen it.

The fundamental problem for Trump is covering people with preexisting condition has already been accomplished — through Obamacare’s regulations for health insurers and the government assistance it provides to lower premiums. The various Republican health care plans would roll back both of those provisions, which makes insurance more expensive for people who are less healthy and would likely lead to millions of people losing coverage. That is not a replacement plan the public is likely to support.

So instead, Trump continues to dodge when pressed on this issue, which is of critical importance to many voters. The stakes for US health care are high in the 2020 election. If Trump wins at the Supreme Court but doesn’t have a replacement plan, 20 million people or more could lose insurance; if Joe Biden wins and passes his health care plan, as many as 25 million coverage would gain coverage.

Biden seems likely to draw that distinction at Thursday’s second, and final, presidential debate. Trump has laid up the argument for him with this latest interview.

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